In conversation with Mitchell Klein ’“ how the pandemic will affect smart homes

Following the release of Z-Wave’s second-annual State of the Ecosystem Report, Amy Wallington catches up with executive director, Mitchell Klein to find out his thoughts about how the coronavirus will affect the smart home market.

AW: How has the coronavirus really impacted the smart home and IoT ecosystem? Has it experienced growth while people have been locked away at home?

MK: We began sourcing data for the Z-Wave State of the Ecosystem 2020 report pre-Covid-19, but based on conversations I’ve had with our members and other folks in the industry, the consensus is that coronavirus has had an impact on consumer buying behaviours and the adoption of smart home and IoT devices. Although factories have started to reopen, manufacturers are still witnessing major delays when it comes to products making their way from the factory to the retailer and the consumer. 

Aside from industry supply chain delays, consumers are spending more time at home and in return, are spending more time and money on home renovations and upgrades. Homeowners are looking for ways to upgrade their homes to add security and convenience and will look to smart home and IoT products to do so. 

AW: What do you think will happen post-Covid-19 in terms of the growth of IoT devices?

MK: We have seen consistent, year-on-year growth with consumer adoption of IoT devices, and while Covid-19 will undoubtedly have an impact on purchasing behaviours, we expect to still see smart home and IoT continue to grow. Consumers are looking to smart home and security devices to provide security and convenience during the pandemic and for the years to follow. Homeowners are looking for new ways to upgrade their homes and will continue to rely on IoT devices to do so in a post-Covid-19 world. 

According to ABI Research included in the Z-Wave Ecosystem Report, Z-Wave all-in-one devices, smart doorbells and water sensors are the top categories predicted to experience growth through to 2025. All-in-one devices refer to smart devices with hubs built in, i.e. a smart security system or display that also functions as a gateway, which supports the desire for ease-of-use and install that consumers cite as important to their experience with smart home. Smart doorbells and other security devices have seen growing popularity in recent years and smart water sensors are seeing growing interest in part to new incentives from home insurance carriers.

While we continue to see growth in North America, the same data from ABI Research outlines continued growth in international markets. The data found that the regions most primed for growth through 2025 were in the Latin America and the EMEA regions.

AW: Do you think trends will change when we start getting back to normal in terms of the most popular smart devices on the market? 

MK: We asked experts across the smart home and IoT ecosystems for their thoughts about the industry post-pandemic. The feedback we received was that there would likely be an increased demand for home entertainment devices, as families are staying home and looking for ways to keep everyone in the home entertained – a shift from smart home security being a top-performing category, for example. With more people spending time at home streaming content, working, and learning, there is a renewed focus on using smart home technology to keep people connected inside the home and from a distance. 

For the Z-Wave State of the Ecosystem Report, Stacey Higginbotham of Stacey on IoT stated: “In a post-pandemic world, I think the smart home’s greatest opportunity will be facilitating connections between people,” and I think we’ll see that ring true as we move through the second half of 2020 and beyond. 

AW: Do you think IoT devices and the DIY smart home is the main push of growth in this industry? 

The IoT industry needs to prioritise device and network interoperability to ensure continued growth. As the adoption of smart home and IoT devices continues to grow, consumers will expect that the devices within their homes will work together; product interoperability is absolutely critical to ensuring the success of the smart home. Product incompatibility can have a big impact on the ease-of-use and setup after purchasing smart home devices. Many consumers note that they are easily frustrated by the industry-wide lack of device compatibility, which can lead to disinterest and disengagement, thus, hindering the smart home’s opportunity and industry growth. 

DIY devices allow the consumer to setup and install devices with ease creating a smooth and hassle-free customer experience. Increased social distancing and the worry that comes with professional installers entering the home could lead to increased consumer interest in DIY products over pro installs, but this doesn’t mean that there is no longer a need for professional installers. The professional install community simply needs to shift their business approach, spending more time offering virtual walkthroughs and troubleshooting remotely, where they can.    

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